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#pounditSaturday, August 8, 2020

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard’s custom face mask is absolutely incredible

Kawhi Leonard sat out Saturday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, but he still attracted attention for what he was wearing.

The Los Angeles Clippers opted against playing Leonard Saturday in the first game of a back-to-back, citing injury management as the reason. That meant Leonard watched the game from the bench — with one of the strangest face masks anyone will ever see.

Nobody has any clue what to make of this, but to be clear, that certainly appears to be telephone cord holding the mask in place. A unique look to say the very least.

Leonard has always been willing to capitalize on his rather unique personality and sense of style. This, however, is inimitable. We have no idea where one would even get that mask or come up with the concept for it, but it certainly stands out.

Video: Kawhi Leonard got bunny ears from Marcus Morris and was not amused

Kawhi Leonard

Do not mess with Kawhi Leonard when he has his gameface on.

Marcus Morris messed with Leonard late in the Los Angeles Clippers’ 126-103 win over the New Orleans Pelicans in Orlando, Fla. on Saturday. Morris gave Leonard the classic bunny ears, and Kawhi was not amused.

When it’s game time for Kawhi, it’s game time.

Leonard was the second-leading scorer for the Clippers in the win, putting up 24 points, six rebounds and five assists. Paul George led the team with 28 points, most of which came on his eight three-pointers. Morris had nine points.

The Clippers got out to such a big lead in the game early on that none of their starters played more than 27 minutes, leaving plenty of time for laughs on the bench — or serious faces, if you’re Kawhi.

Dwight Howard got gift in bubble from Kawhi Leonard

Dwight Howard

The Los Angeles Lakers and the LA Clippers will be battling for Western Conference supremacy over the next couple of months, but that is not stopping Kawhi Leonard from showing some hospitality.

Lakers center Dwight Howard revealed in a post to his Instagram Story on Saturday that he had gotten a gift in the bubble from the Clippers star, specifically a package of some New Balance gear.

“Kawhi thanks for the gear bro,” Howard wrote in the caption.

Leonard has become the face of New Balance and was even spotted earlier this year representing the brand at a strip club. Howard, meanwhile, used to be an Adidas athlete before signing a deal with Chinese brand Peak in 2015. As of this season however, he is a sneaker free agent, so this might be a recruitment effort on Leonard’s part.

While there are rivalries between other members of the Lakers and Clippers, Leonard and Howard appear to be cool enough with each other, at least for the purposes of potential business opportunities.

Kawhi Leonard joins Clippers in Orlando after delay

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard has joined his Los Angeles Clippers in Orlando for the NBA’s resumed season, but he is currently going through a quarantine period.

The Clippers traveled to Orlando on Wednesday to begin their quarantine period before being cleared to live the bubble life created in Disney World. Leonard was not part of that trip due to a family matter, according to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers shared on Saturday that Leonard is now with the team.

In addition to Leonard, JaMychal Green traveled separately due to a family matter and reportedly is set to join the Clippers on Sunday.

The Clippers enter the resumed season with a 44-20 record, which has them second in the West. They are expected to be among the contenders for the championship. Leonard was last year’s NBA Finals MVP with Toronto and is looking to win a championship with a third NBA team.

Kawhi Leonard to play back-to-backs if necessary in condensed postseason?

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard’s injury management had been a major storyline of his first season with the LA Clippers, and now there might be some answers about what that program would look like during a makeshift playoff period.

In a mailbag article this week, Clippers beat writer Jovan Buha of The Athletic wrote that he believes Leonard would play in back-to-backs if necessary in a condensed postseason. Buha thinks that would be true even with some injury risk for Leonard, just as long as it is not career-threatening.

Leonard, who continues to manage patellar tendinopathy in his left knee, sat out 51 of 64 games for the Clippers this season after missing 22 of 82 with the Toronto Raptors last season. The Clippers had also been keeping him to a modest 32.2 minutes per game on the year as a whole.

Granted, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said just before play was suspended that the reigning Finals MVP no longer had any restrictions. While Leonard’s injury may not be completely healed by the time that play resumes, the two months off and counting figure to help, and he could be full throttle for the postseason, if and however that takes place.

From LeBron James to Kawhi Leonard: the front court players most deserving of All-NBA

LeBron James

The selections for All-NBA forwards and centers present an interesting dilemma, as they strictly adhere to a two forward, one center format. In today’s position-less pace-and-space era of the NBA, it seems antiquated to require one center per All-NBA team. With the game speeding up and a premium being placed on spacing, there is a significant decrease in demand for traditional centers. Teams like the Houston Rockets don’t even believe in playing a center.

The NBA recognized this shift in basketball ideology by removing positions from the frontcourt of the All-Star ballot and allowing for three frontcourt players of any position to be named a starter. While this was a step in the right direction, no changes have been made to the format of the All-NBA teams, resulting in less deserving players on the All-NBA teams simply due to their position.

With that caveat in mind, here are my selections for the All-NBA forwards and centers. (You can see my 2020 All-NBA guards here)

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Several NBA stars want to resume season

Chris Paul

Several NBA stars want to resume the current season, according to a report.

Yahoo’s Chris B. Haynes reported on Tuesday that Chris Paul, who is the president of the players’ association, arranged a call with many other top players in the league to discuss the resumption of the season. Haynes says the call included LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook.

All players agreed that they wanted to resume the current season when it is safe. The belief is that the superstars all being on the same page will influence the direction of the league.

With the exception of Curry, Durant and Lillard, the players on that call mostly are on championship-contending teams, and therefore would have more incentive to resume the season. Haynes says many players not on playoff contenders feel the season should only resume with playoff teams to minimize the risk of virus exposure.

One issue some players are considering is that the next collective bargaining agreement would be negatively affected if the season were not resumed. That is a concern that was raised by one veteran player.